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"This is where U2 live — a four-piece in a room, struggling to get it right." — Larry



by Bob King


U2 came to the National Car Rental Center in Sunrise (not "Miami,"
Bono!) in far western Broward County, just across six lanes of
asphalt from the soon-to-be-flaming remnants of the Everglades.
This is a land of annoying strip malls, $300,000-plus gated
communities with bland, stucco-sided houses, and endless miles
of identical red-barrel-tiled roofs -- and, lest we forget, just south of
the county that last year ineptly handed the fate of the world to
George W. Bush.

But for a few hours, a too-small space of time Saturday, we were
the center of the U2 universe.

The important things have already been said -- amazing band,
amazing show and a tour NOT TO BE MISSED. This is the first
time I'd seen them since the ZooTV Outside Broadcast, and the
first time I'd ever seen them in such a relatively intimate setting,
and all I can say is: Words fail me.

Highlights:
-- "Walk On," as wonderful a show-closer as you'd expect.
-- "The Fly," with a new intro.
-- UTEOTW.
-- ""New Year's Day" with the full band.
-- "New York," which struck me as a much stronger song than I
had thought from listening to the album.
-- An incredible version of "Bad" (OK, as far as I'm concerned, any
version of "Bad" would be incredible -- this was the one song I had
been really disappointed not to hear at ZooTV in Tampa).
-- "With or Without You" with what looked like constellation charts
(from the Southern Hemisphere?) being projected all over the
arena.
-- "Sweetest Thing," with Bono explaining that he wrote it for his wife and also gave her the royalty and publishing rights
-- "I Will Follow"
-- "One," which had almost the whole crowd swaying and singing
along in unison (although the four girls directly in front of me
seemed to form a clique-of-three, excluding the fourth) and made it
clear just what a shared experience U2's songs have been for so
many people. It would have been a cheesy, Lee Greenwood type of
moment were the music not so great and the lyrics not so honest
and heartfelt.
-- The Corrs. Go early, get in the pit and see them as a bonus.

Oddnesses:
-- The security "pat down" searches at the entrance to the arena,
along with an Orwellian, HAL-like voice announcing all the stuff
you're prohibited from doing, like bringing in cameras. (The rent-a-
cop at the door suspiciously inspected my contact lens case and
bottle of rewetting fluid). None of this prevented the crowd from
being filled with what seemed like 10,000 cameras, including the
most amusing sight of the evening, a guy stuffing a 200mm
telephoto lens into the front pocket of his jeans. ("Have you chosen
an aperture setting or are you just glad to see me?")
-- Bono falling (which I didn't realize happened until I read the
other reviews; he seemed to disappear from sight a few
times.)
-- Bono's leap into the crowd and subsequent, security-herded exit
in mid-show. It was certainly dramatic, but it didn't seem clear to
most of the crowd that the whole band was leaving for the usual pre-
encore break. Instead of wildly clapping and cheering to bring the
band back, the audience mainly seemed confused. The cheering
was certainly louder several songs later when people were trying
(unsuccessfully) to bring the band back after "Walk On."
-- Did some woman really hand Bono her fuscia underwear?
-- Finally, my chief complaint: TOO SHORT!!! (even at 2-plus hours)
TOO FEW SONGS FROM THE NEW ALBUM!!! COME BACK,
U2!!! COME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

Altered lyrics from "One":

"Have you come here to play Jesus?
"Have you come to raise the dead?
"Have you come here for forgiveness?
"I have."

(A slight change from the usual concert version, I think. Has he
ever placed the Jesus line first?)

I can't answer any questions about how to get into the pit. My
friend who bought the tickets is 5 feet tall and was concerned
about being squashed, so we were sitting in the 108 section,
directly across from the stage and about 10 rows off the floor. Even
without any opportunity to shake hands with Bono, we had an
excellent view of the show. It doesn't look like there are any bad
seats; even from behind the stage people seemed to have a clear
line of sight.

The staging was certainly more minimalist than ZooTV and
PopMart, but maybe not as much as you'd expect at first. Along
the ceiling were four large, high-resolution video screens that
showed black-and-white closeups of the band members for about
half the songs. The images' crispness reminded me of the CD
jacket photos from "Rattle and Hum."

Just when I thought that was it, other stuff started popping up.

With "Discotheque/Staring at the Sun," another wall of video monitors rose behind the
stage, creating a narrow horizontal strip that sent blue and red
pulses sliding back and forth like a snake. Those monitors
disappeared pretty quickly but came back full-sized later on.
Scrims (gauzy, see-through curtain-like things) descended from the
ceiling a few times, offering a surface to project things onto. At the
end, the big heart-within-a-suitcase logo was projected onto the
crowd, signalling that the show was over all too quickly.

Thanks guys! Come back again real soon.

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